Counting The Killers – Hidden In The Open (2020) Review

Cliff, my partner in crime at The Metal Asylum, has been friends with David Pankhurst on Facebook for a while and it was through their friendship that I approached David to do a review of their new EP “Hidden In The Open.”

Counting The Killers started as a conversation between Ben Robbins (vocals) and David Pankhurst (guitars and vocals) in August 2019 and very soon the project became something very special, with the band wanting to produce rock songs that would appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

The two were joined by AD Walshingham (guitar), Steve Card (bass) and Luke Smith (drums) with previous bands of the five of them including Micrafish, Scarred By Name, Gravil, Minerva Falls and High/Low.

Based in and around the Southend-On-Sea area of Essex, the EP was recorded during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and, as yet, they have still to perform a single gig as a band. But that by no means takes away from the professionalism and musicianship of this band.

The first track from the EP, ‘Winter’ was originally released on 18th April 2020 but, being unable to get to the studio due to Covid restrictions, the track was not mixed. The final version was eventually released in August 2020.

September brought the release of the self-titled track ‘Counting The Killers’, a rocky little number with killer riffs and pounding drums but it was the October release that really brought them to my attention.

‘Head Above Water’ was released on 25th October and it is a haunting, emotional track that I think a lot of people can relate to. You see, ‘Head Above Water’ was written from a first hand experience of dealing with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings, and mental health issues, especially in men, is a topic that is very prevalent and important in today’s society. To be able to say “I am not ok” should, I think, be normalised and the band are using this track to help raise money for mental health charities in the UK.

Says writer of the track David, “This song is something that I am really proud of. It’s a bit of a departure from what people expect me to write but I felt that I needed to put this down and share it. It deals with all aspects of depression from the thoughts to the situations and ways out. Ways to end it all but knowing it’s not the right thing to do. Asking for help is hard but at the end of the day it is always the right road to recovery. I brought it to the band and they instantly knew it had to be a very simplistic track and it hasn’t really changed that much from the initial idea I had.”

To help the guys raise money for mental health, all they ask you to do is visit their website, and download the track ‘Head Above Water.’ The band will then automatically donate the proceeds.

For the video to the track, the band also invited friends and family who have suffered in the past or still suffering from depression, anxiety and suicide thoughts to take part, resulting in an emotional video that shows that the “black dog” really can affect anyone in any walk of life.

The rest of the EP has a hard rock / alternative / metal feel, mixing riffs and drums with some more chilled out tracks and the band hopes there is something in their songs that will appeal to everyone.

Please check these guys out. Recording a debut EP during a worldwide lockdown couldn’t have been easy and I think they deserve all the credit, support, and encouragement that they get. Let’s hope that when this god-awful year is eventually over and gigs are allowed to take place again, these guys get the opportunity to finally perform together. I will certainly be there when they do!


Another Shore

Royal Ten

Whispered Torment

Head Above Water


Counting The Killers


Behind The Smokescreen – Scars Within EP

Another one of my reviews that was originally posted to Ever Metal

One thing we are proud of at Ever Metal is the diversity and range of music that we review. My last three reviews couldn’t have been any more different if I tried. I have gone from a progressive rock band to a 60’s/70’s influenced psychedelic band and now to this new EP from Greek band Behind The Smokescreen, an aggressive / groove metal outfit.

Formed in Ioannina, Greece, in 2013, the band is made up of Nikonas Tsolakos on vocals, Nasos Drougas on rhythm guitars and backing vocals, Kyriakos Magdalis on drums, Evaggelos Roukos on bass and Dimitris Lucas on lead guitars. The EP was mixed and mastered at Crown Audio Conspiracies by Achilleas Kalantzis and the cover artwork was designed by Giannis Tagmatarchis.

This is a band who wear their influences on their sleeve and have maintained a great respect and admiration for bands such as Pantera, Machinehead, Lamb of God and Black Label Society. I’m sure they would be the first to admit they are not trying to break any new ground with this EP, but it is still a stonking recording none the less.

The EP kicks off with ‘Too Ambitious’ and I absolutely loved the opening intro with its galloping guitars and heavy riffs that rumble in your belly. I was expecting really growling vocals to kick in (probably because experience has shown me that if I really love the music, I am going to hate the vocals!) but was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t. The vocals are aggressive and in your face, but at least you can still hear what the singer is singing and is even quite melodic in places.

The guitar work is fantastic throughout the EP and the solos are out of this world. The rhythm section is solid, and everybody seems to fit together perfectly. I do think a lot of the heavier bands are accused of “just making a noise” but it takes a lot of talent to be able to make a noise and it be as good as this EP!

My head was banging, and my foot was tapping the whole way through this and I just wished it lasted longer! I think these guys would be immense in a live setting so if I hear they are visiting London town at any point I will be there, with bells on! (well ok studs and buckles but you get my drift!)

I hope these guys are going to put out a full-length album soon but, in the meantime, I will go and check out their previously released album “Age of Corruption.” I suggest you all go and do the same!

As the famous Oliver once said…. please sir, can I have some more?!


1 Too Ambitious

2 Broken Is The Word

3 Future Re-Set

4 Shelter In I (Bonus)


Originally posted on Ever Metal – Reproduced here with kind permission

The Metal Asylum – Metal From Around The Globe Special – 15/11/2020

Here is the playlist from our “Metal From Around The Globe” Special. We hope you find a band here that you may have never heard before! It’s always good to spread the metal \m/ Around the world in 180 minutes! Enjoy!

  • Seven Witches – Metal Asylum
  • Belphegor – Impaled Upon The Tongue of Sathan (Blood Magick Necromance – 2011) Adrian Marsden’s birthday request
  • Danzig – Devil’s Plaything (Danzig II: Lucifuge – 1990) Marietta Moonshine’s birthday request
  • Orbit Culture – The Shadowing (Nija – 2020) Sweden
  • Nine Treasures – Wisdom Eyes (Wisdom Eyes – 2017) China
  • Eternal Madness – The Truth Of Imagination (single released in 2011) Indonesia
  • Lords Of Black – Sacrifice (Alchemy Of Souls – Pt 2 – 2020) Spain
  • Harmonize – Warriors In The Night (Warriors In The Night – 2020) Cyprus
  • Arka’n Asrafokor – Tears Of The Dead (Fangs – 2020) Africa
  • Shepherds Reign – Le Manu (Le Manu – 2020) New Zealand
  • Girish And The Chronicles – Rock n Roll Is Here To Stay (Rock The Highway – 2020) India
  • Abandoned Elysium – Wild Flower (Bloom – 2017) Estonia
  • Tyr – Hold The Heathen Hammer High (Black Sails Over Europe – 2009) Faroe Islands
  • Pink Cream 69 – Walls Come Down (Headstrong – 2017) Germany
  • Cult Of Lilith – Purple Tide (Purple Tide – 2020) Iceland
  • Grenouer – Blood On The Face (Blood On The Face – 2013) Russia
  • Demonlord – Let The Demon Out (Only The Dead Are Safe – 2011) Hungary
  • Alien Weaponry – Holding My Breath (TU – 2018) New Zealand
  • Scars – Sad Darkness Of The Soul (Predatory – 2020) Brazil
  • Behemoth – No Sympathy For Fools (Zos Kia Cultus (Here And Beyond) – 2002) Poland
  • Blind Savior – Freedom Call (The Master Plan – 2016) Malta
  • Steel Tormentor – Armageddon (Return Of A King – 2010) Ireland
  • Knightmare – Dawning Of An Eternal Life – 2019) Turkey
  • Scarlet Anger – The Abominable Master Gruesome (Freak Show – 2016) Luxembourg
  • Toxikull – Nightraiser (The Nightraiser – 2018) Portugal
  • Earsplit – Biohazardous Disease (Earsplit – 2011) Kuwait
  • Mercyful Fate – A Dangerous Meeting (Don’t Break The Oath – 1984) Denmark
  • Black Crown Initiate – Holy Silence (Holy Silence – 2020) USA
  • Coven – Wings Of Glory (The Advent – 2017) Japan
  • Acid Reign – Sense Of Independence (The Age Of Entitlement – 2019) UK
  • Demoniac – The Trap (So It Goes – 2021) Chile
  • Witchtrap – Return To Hell (Evil Strikes Again – 2020) Columbia
  • Strident – Face To Face (March Of Plague – 2019) Israel
  • Terror Activator – Demise Of Disgrace (Moshing Is Available – 2019) Latvia
  • Leverage – Superstition (Tides – 2006) Finland
  • 3 Inches Of Blood – Metal Woman (Long Live Heavy Metal – 2012) Canada

Aired on Metal Devastation Radio

The Metal Asylum – Metal From Around The Globe Special – 15/11/2020

So this week, we decided to do a Metal From Around The Globe Special. Three hours of tunage from the most far flung corners of the world. Around the world in 180 minutes. We hope you enjoy it!

Aired on Metal Devastation Radio

Bearfist – Smile You Son Of A Bitch (2019)

Here is the second of my older reviews originally posted on Ever Metal

As I was also preparing an interview for Essex based band, Bearfist, I had already done a bit of research before listening to the EP, something which I never do! But even then, I wasn’t prepared for the sonic onslaught that my ears were about to suffer, and I do not mean that in a bad way!

Screaming vocals have never really been my bag, but one thing that reviewing has taught me is to never judge a band or their music based on one aspect of them alone!

Bearfist are a four-piece band hailing from Chelmsford, Essex (so essentially a local band for me!) and were formed in late 2014. The band’s heavy groove laden songs and intense live shows earnt them a reputation that saw them grace the stage at some of the UK’s favourite festivals. To note, they have played at Bloodstock in 2016, after winning the London region of Metal to the Masses, HRH Metal in 2017 and Hammerfest in 2018.

The band, itself, was an idea that started off as a chat over a few beers between mates (let’s face it, we have all been there after a few alcoholic beverages, just most of us never actually bring it to fruition) and ended up as the “groove laden wall of noise that you hear today.”

Says the band, “we originally just jumped in a rehearsal room with a bucket load of riff ideas to see what sort of animal we had on our hands.”

They didn’t just produce an animal, they produced a monster and they have press quotes to back that up!

Says Metal Hammer, “combining weighty riffs with throat-shredding vocals, Bearfist are just metal AF.” “One of the most complete acts to play the New Blood Stage,” said Virtual Festivals, regarding Bloodstock, 2016 and Overdrive also stated of the Bloodstock performance, “Bearfist just destroy it. If we were to gauge the future of metal on today’s performance from Bearfist, it is safe to say we have nothing to worry about.”

So, what is it about the band that has produced this level of praise?

“Smile You Son Of A Bitch EP” is the third EP from the beast that is Bearfist, after the releases of “The Fifteenth Day” in 2015 and “Foundations” in 2016, and was produced, mixed and mastered by Justin Hill (ex-Sikth vocalist). The cover photographs were taken by Loki Films and the final layout of the cd had been designed and edited by band member Jon Holland.

The one thing that stands out to me about this four track EP is the sheer amount of energy that emits from it. Even with it playing through the earphones on my laptop (and the earphones not actually being in my ears!) the power is there to be heard.

The guitars are heavy, with riffs that hit you right in the stomach, and in my mind, there is nothing better than heavy guitars. The drumming is tight and frantic, with double kicks popping up all over the place and in a live setting this guy must work up a real sweat! Musically, these guys are top notch and even the vocals, which as I said are not my cup of tea, are first class, performed with a raw intensity that you just cannot but admire.

This is a raw and brutal EP that will have you banging your head from start to finish and I would love to the see the mosh pit at a Bearfist gig as I think it would be mental (I wouldn’t, however, want to be IN it though!!)

If you like your metal fierce and right there in your face, then this is an EP for you. And even if you don’t, give it a try. It will blow away some cobwebs and you might just find yourself moshing along with the rest of us!


Death’s Emissary

Destroy The Magnet

I’m Your God

Bleed The Wrong Way


Originally posted on Ever Metal

Alphastate – The Grind (2018)

As most of you know I used to write for Ever Metal and have the kind permission from them to reproduce the reviews I wrote for them here.

We will start with this one from Alphastate

Alphastate are a Greek metal band, formed in 2013 as a personal project of Pete Breaker (guitars). Vocalist Manos Xanthakis joined in in 2015 and the line up was complete in 2016 with the additions of Dimitris Tsounakis on bass and Fivos Andriopoulos on the drums. They released their first album “Out of the Black” in 2015 and received excellent and positive press globally.

Says the band: “we wanted to combine modern metal with 80’s and 90’s influences such as Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera and Nevermore to create a very personal and extreme style with no boundaries.”

So, what genre of metal are Alphastate? To pigeonhole them into one category would be wrong and do them a severe injustice. They play heavy metal that is heavier than normal, but they have thrown in a bit of power too, with just a hint of doom (think Sabbath, Candlemass and Trouble), and this gives them an almost unique sound.

I always think the vocals make any band and am always on the lookout for bands that have distinctive and different singers. If I am totally honest, on the first run through of the album, I didn’t actually like Manos’s vocals but after listening a few times, I realised I really didn’t give him much credit. His vocals are deep, and unmistakably Greek, which is by no means a bad thing. He could quite easily fit into a band such as Firewind if they were ever on the lookout.

I must admit that I hadn’t listened to the band’s first album before listening to this one, but the promo notes that came with the album stated that they wanted to take a more modern and aggressive approach musically with this new album. They wanted “very loud and distinctive guitars, a more modern production that had the vocals pushed up front and drums that punched through the sound.”  

I think they were successful on all three counts. Take the guitars out of this album and they would slot straight into a Pantera album, the drums are strong and tight, and I have already mentioned the vocals above.

This album includes a lot more of the band’s own thoughts and experiences making it the most personal release so far, and sonically it is their best. They have made an album that is “pure aggression with the best songs they have ever written.”

One thing that I wasn’t overly keen on with this album, was the lack of variation. Each song seemed to sound much like the last, and I am not sure if this is due to unfamiliarity with the tracks. Maybe with a few more listens through, the songs may start to separate a bit.

But this doesn’t take away from the fact, that this is a solid album, and for a band that has only really been together properly since 2016, it’s a good sign of things to come.

Give these guys a go……and they may just surprise you!


01. Trapped

02. Phantom Desires

03. Speak Your Mind

04. Theater Of Lies

05. The Grind

06. Forevermore

07. Behind The Dark

08. Heaven’s World

09. Man Made God


Reproduced with kind permission from Ever Metal

The Metal Asylum – Lockdown Request Show – 08/11/2020

Here is the playlist for the Lockdown Request Show aired on Sunday 8th November 2020. Three hours of awesome tunes as chosen by YOU, our listeners and boy did you pick some crackers!

  • Seven Witches – Metal Asylum
  • Uriah Heep – Gyspy (in memory of Ken Hensley, keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist who died on 4/11/2020 aged 75)
  • Saxon – Sea Of Life (Metalhead – 1999)
  • Warrant – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Cherry Pie – 1990)
  • Pantera – Like Fire (Projects In The Jungle – 1984)
  • Mystic Prophecy – Killhammer (Killhammer – 2013)
  • Clawfinger – The Truth (Deaf Dumb Blind – 1993)
  • Incinery – Ellison (Hollow Earth Theory – 2020)
  • Sammy Hagar – This Planet’s On Fire (Street Machine – 1979)
  • Judas Priest – Dreamer Deceiver (Sad Wings of Destiny – 1976)
  • Styx – Crystal Ball (Crystal Ball – 1976)
  • Dream Evil – Save Us (Dragonslayer – 2002)
  • Pegazus – Metal Forever (Breaking The Chains – 1999)
  • Sacrilege – In Hell
  • The Deep – Premonition (Demo – 2013)
  • Accept – Pandemic (Blood Of The Nations – 2010)
  • Benediction – Stormcrow (Scriptures – 2020)
  • The Poodles – Night of Passion (Metal Will Stand Tall – 2006)
  • Five Finger Death Punch – Burn MF (The Wrong Side of Heaven, The Righteous Side of Hell – 2013)
  • Morbid Angel – Maze Of Torment (Altars of Madness – 1989)
  • Counting The Killers – Head Above Water
  • Armored Saint – Mutiny On The World (March of The Saint – 1984)
  • Usurper – Warriors of Iron and Rust (Necronemesis – 2000)
  • Riot – Sign of The Crimson Storm (Thundersteel – 1988)
  • Gravehuffer – Ghostdance (Ghostdance – 2020)
  • Angel Dust – Come Into Resistance (Enlighten The Darkness – 2000)
  • Anvil – Blood On The Ice (Pound For Pound – 1988)
  • Gravehill – Ravager (Rites of The Pentagram/Metal of Death – 2009)
  • Autopsy – Charred Remains (Severed Survival – 1989)
  • Death Dealer – Triumph and Victory (Warmaster – 2013)
  • Volbeat – The Hangman’s Body Count (Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies – 2013)
  • Facebreaker – Zombie Flesh Cult (Dedicated To The Flesh – 2013)
  • Magnum – Soldier of The Line (Chase The Dragon – 1982)
  • Def Leppard – Gods of War (Hysteria – 1987)
  • ToJa – Take Me Home (Sad Songs of Hope – 2013)
  • Scar The Martyr – Mind’s Eye (Scar The Marttyr – 2013)

Aired on Metal Devastation Radio

The Metal Asylum – Lockdown Request Show – 08/11/2020

Here is the podcast from the show aired on Sunday 8th November 2020. 3 hours of awesome tunes as chosen by YOU, The Metal Asylum listeners, with a few thrown in from us for good measure! Enjoy!

Aired on Metal Devastation Radio

Until The Sky Dies – Forgotten Pact – (Death Doom Metal)

For Fans of Melvins, Swans, Bolt Thrower, Faith No More, Devin Townsend

Crushing Post Doom Meets Avant Death Metal from this Adventurous Duo. Until The Sky Dies loves to add odd synths and electronics through out as well as Post Hardcore movements. The Year Zero Blueprint (2017) on Cimmerian Shade Records, PR was done by Earsplit.

Clint Listing- Vocals , Guitar, Bass

Ryan Michalski- Lead Guitar, Synth, Drums

Out November 13th 2020

Track List:
1.Chose to Die 2.Destructive Voice 3.Hope, Sorrow, Release 4.Never Wanting, Never Lost 5.I the Victor 6.Dear Mother, Not Forgotten 7.Zeppelins are not made for Flying 8.Experimental Vision

Originally posted on Metal Devastation Radio

Stormchild – Lightning Never Strikes Twice (2020)

Here is The Metal Asylum’s review of Stormchild’s latest album “Lightning Never Strikes Twice”

Chris Mitchell, from Bolton band Stormchild, first approached me after I had made a Facebook page about links to band’s merchandise and kindly sent me one of the band’s t-shirts, which I promised I would take a photo of me wearing which I have, as yet, still not done. Chris, that’s next on my list!!!

The conversation got round to the band’s new album and I promised them a review, which, after a bit of time (again, sorry Chris!) is finally here.

But let us start at the beginning!

Stormchild was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1979 when a group of talented teenagers decided to form a hard rock band and after winning a national rock talent competition against 1800 other competitors, they should have been well on their way. The prize was a record deal with Kilo Records, managed by Paradise Promotions, an all-paid for flat in the West End, musical equipment, a press launch and a support slot in America with Bob Seger!! However, the night before they were due to leave for London, the promotion company went into liquidation!

Kilo Records released a demo single ‘Rockin Steady’ and the late, great Chris Tsangarides (Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Yngwie Malmsteen) agreed to produce them but the band split up in 1982 before they had the chance to work with him.

Fast forward to 2015 and, after discovering the band actually had quite a large following despite splitting up so early, the original members of the band met up again in Bolton and plans were made to record a new album with songs from 1979 – 1981, with Chris Tsangarides as producer!

And “Lightning Never Strikes Twice” which is title of one of the band’s early tracks, was born.

So, what sort of sound do Stormchild have? Originating in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal era, they don’t really have the typical NWOBHM sound. As many of you might remember from previous reviews from me, I am not the biggest fan of NWOBHM, but Stormchild has a totally unique sound that could fit well in a number of different genres. The band’s promo material states, “these songs are over 30 years old, but still sound so fresh and different” and I couldn’t agree more!

This album has a bit of everything, rocky little numbers that make you bop away in your chair (or around the living room if you are feeling a little bit more energetic!) and slower tracks that almost border on ballads (and who doesn’t love a good rock ballad?), all brought together with great musicianship.

They got together in 1979 as talented teenagers and they have brought that talent together in this album, with fantastic guitar solos, a tight rhythm section and vocals which are ideally suited to the type of music being played.

Maybe if this band had carried on in the 80’s I might have been a bigger fan of NWOBHM (although retrospectively as I am FAR too young to have lived through the original NWOBHM era!!) The more I listen to this album the more I like it and coming from a thrash girl that really is a good thing!

I hope when the world gets back to normal, or as close to it as we can, I will catch these guys at a gig somewhere. I want to see that great live show with all the pyrotechnics that they have a gained a reputation for.

Great job Stormchild, keep up the good work and looking forward to the next offering!

Track Listing

No Chances

Riders On The Rain

Lights, Camera, Action

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

When The Lights Go Down


Rockin Steady

Can’t Stand The Heat

Stay With Me

Sands Of Time

What To Try


Social Media